Thursday, December 1, 2011

Experiments in a Desi Kitchen

In an effort to shrink my inner cravings for some American comfort food I've been learning some basic recipes that I never would have needed in the US. I got the wild idea the other day to make donuts. So I googled and searched and found some recipes that didn't need ingredients you can't get here. (Like shortening for example.) I wound up having to combine two recipes because one site had things in the ingredients list that weren't in the recipe and things in the recipe that weren't in the ingredients list. Yikes!

So armed with my recipe I headed down the kitchen excited to taste the soft, moist and succulent donuts I miss. I rarely ate these in the US but, of course, now that I'm in India I just needed one. The donuts at the bakery are nowhere near the same as an American Krispy Kreme or Dunkin Donuts donut. I started mixing my ingredients only to find out there were no eggs in the house - this is a critical ingredient. So I had to call hubby to get him to run MIL to the store and get them. I can't yet explain that in Punjabi. She got them and then I moved on with the recipe.

Things looked okay and the batter looked so pretty. I got my oil hot and started shaping my donuts. The dough was a little sticky but I didn't let that deter me because I've seen donuts being made before and that's how they should be (I think lol). I put one in the oil and started frying. Now, I was also cooking lunch because a girl has to eat and I didn't need all sugar and such. That's how I learned the first lesson in donut making - don't take your eyes off of them. The first side got darker than I wanted...about as dark as you would expect tandoori chicken. I flipped it thinking to myself OMG. I watched the next side closer and when it was done I got it out.

The next donut I watched closer and I got it to a nice golden color and then flipped it. It was an ugly donut (no doubt from my inexperienced rolling techniques), but the color was nice. I got that one done and then made the last one. I had to do three because I couldn't cut the ingredients down any more to make less. I got it done and instead of making glaze (because there is no powdered sugar here either) I decided to sprinkle some vanilla flavoring and sugar over it. They looked a little dry and I told myself this would be a good idea.

I wasn't totally wrong. The flavor was so good ...BUT.....the first donut wasn't hard on the outside but was the only one that got done! Yep...2 were still raw in the middle. The one that I overcooked had a burnt sort of flavor to it. So here I sit....still no donut. I think this experience got the 'I need a donut' craving out of my system though. Next stop...cheesecake!! Let's just pray I don't screw that up!

What really kills me about all of this is that in the US, in 20 years of cooking I only managed to completely screw up one recipe. I'm a very good cook and I love making new stuff. But here in India, I screw up something on a regular basis. It's so disheartening and makes me want to give up cooking forever. The gas heat is different, the cooking dishes are different. I use a toaster oven instead of a real oven. Ingredients and cooking tools that I am used to are not available. It's quite a challenge. I have made some really good's just that I've made an equal amount of bad stuff. A lot of the things I cook only FIL likes. He's all excited that my recipes are healthy. Hubby eats a few of them but he's a grease addict like his momma. I just want to hang up my apron, throw my hands up in the air and walk away. Of course if I did though I may never eat again. Bleh...someone send some good cooking vibes my way lol.


  1. I tried making donuts once, like you the one that had the nice golden hue were raw in the middle, the only one that was cooked well in the middle had the consistency of a hockey puck on the outside. I am a good cook, and a good baker, but I had more than my share of big fat fails in India, this is frustrating and makes you doubt yourself...ugh.

  2. Yeah, I'm not giving up that easy though.'s cooking and I know I can conquer this one. My love for food will not be swayed - not even by India! lol

  3. My prayers are with you even as I hold my sides reading this post. Do take care not to hurt yourself or anyone or anything else. There is a certain level of detachment that is needed to survive the Indian kitchen if you are not used to it, I guess. I wouldn't really know, having been born and brought up near different Indian kitchens, but I do know what you mean. The confidence and courage needed to deal with the splatters, the pressure cooker timings, and the on-the-flame roasting takes a while to gather. My latest post is apparently about cooking.

  4. I know lol! I have issues in the kitchen here but it has not kept me from trying and going back. I'm determined to master this kitchen one way or another.